Money Corrupted Penn State Warrents Death Penalty

Posted: July 19, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , , , , ,

You know what’s tough about consuming large amounts of sports writing?  It can at once be both gratifying and self-serving while addressing a complicated issue reduced to simple, digestible terms.  Most of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation/rape coverage, which will soon be known as the Joe Paterno rape cover up saga, does not need a second opinion.  Most everyone agrees that Sandusky is a monster, Paterno is a liar, and Pennsylvania State University is not some place that should put the words “honor code” or “integrity” in any promotional publications.  What is complicated for many are the after effects of the massive, criminal cover up – namely what should happen to the school now?  Unfortunately this conversation takes the form of a simple question: Should the Joe Paterno statue remain up?   I personally think they should take it down because: 1) statues are meant to memorialize and honor one’s achievements but the “Grand Experiment” of doing college football the right way appears to be built upon a corrupt lie and 2) someone will go out of his/her way to destroy it over the next months.  There is a cruel, Christopher Nolan sense of humor about the Grand Experiment namely that it worked.  Paterno and Co. did positively inspire their football players and kept the players out of trouble compared to most every major Division I program.  It worked.  It worked because the dirty little secret recently exposed by the Sandusky fiasco remains that college programs only need to discipline students.  Coaches, administrators, and trustee members?  Carte Blanche!

Realistically, however, the statue argument does not move my meter.  Couldn’t give less than a mud hole about the statue.  What should be the real focus is what happens to the school.  Where is the NCAA forever worried about the integrity of the game?  Apparently they are policing schools for “lack of institutional control.”  CalTech got lit up for the iconic ruling when players competed in multiple sports without being fully registered for classes because the first three weeks constitutes a “shopping” period where students can visit a variety of classes before setting their schedules.  Here is the report.  So glad the NCAA is still policing programs for institutional problems like lack of protocol, no inter-departmental communication, and schools focused on graduating kids and not being perennial powerhouses.  What should be done to Penn State is my concern.  Rebranding can be kicked about by other people.  Yes, I agree the students-athletes should be allowed to transfer as Dan Wetzel acknowledges on Yahoo! Sports.  The answer to the penalty question is simple.

DEATH PENALTY.  Swift.  Meaningful.  Impacts everyone.  Sends message.

Something amazing happens when schools become out of control or incredibly disingenuous: people cannot figure out how to penalize the programs because an entire crop of new students would suffer from transgressions committed without their knowledge and before their time.  And it is a complicated issue as it pertains to individuals who broke rules with the assistance of coaches/administrators.  In this case, everyone knew.  CalTech was penalized for, among other things, lack of communication and control.  Penn State, sadly, had too much control.  Head Coach knew.  Assistant coaches knew.  Athletic Director knew.  Trustees knew.  Hell, the President of the University knew.  Everyone knew and seemingly everyone decided to hide it.  And more things started to emerge!  And the more anyone asked, the tighter lipped all parties became about the situation.

People don’t like the death penalty because it seems relatively unfair.  Chuck Klosterman on part one of the BS Report with Bill Simmons used the classic statement of relativity (begin at 40:30): if a mathematics professor molested young boys, it would be ludicrous to shut down the entire department or to dissolve the school.  The secondary argument is equally frustrating: the death penalty will not stop other people in the future from molesting young people.  Both arguments, while valid, are incredibly flawed because they do not apply here because the death penalty directly punishes the football program but tangentially impacts the entire University.  Klosterman’s second argument is too narrow because the worst part of this Sandusky 15-year sexual predation is not that Paterno did not do as much as possible or even the fact that he knew about it as much as all of the important players at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY knew and actively covered it up!  That is what the death penalty would effectively stop: when something massively wrong – criminal – is happening and you actively cover it up you should pay the ultimate price especially when its harm done to minors on your property.  Why?  Money.  Everyone took salvage in hiding a damning situation to protect the golden goose that is college football.  For Paterno, football was his legacy.  For the coaches, football was their livelihood.  For the administration, trustees, and President, football was an unprecedented check and marketing tool second to none.  The money negates Klosterman’s first argument.  The football program, the entity itself, led everyone to sit on their hands and do nothing for over a decade.  The death penalty sends a clear and oddly consistent message from the seemingly random NCAA, historically disengaged from criminal matters: football or any other sport is not more important than legal and moral obligations to protect people from predators.

It would be an unfortunate set of circumstances for the current student athletes (who, again, should be allowed to transfer without restriction), students who enjoy football, and many others.  That is the consequence of not reporting a monster while protecting the greenery between the “white-out” sellout crowds in the Autumn/Winter and the green in the pocketbooks of irresponsible adults.

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